With three games down from Thanksgiving, fantasy owners have fewer decisions to make this week when Sunday rolls around. Most leagues start their playoffs in just a couple weeks, so it's crunch time for everyone.
Last Sunday didn't exactly turn out like most expected. Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon went off, Matt Ryan threw five picks and Matt Schaub finished with the second-most passing yards in a single game. Yeah, fantasy football is fun.
A few big names managed to work their way to the sidelines or injured reserve last week, so you're probably looking for all the help you can get here. Let's look a some of the names you need to start in Week 12, and a few players who need to stay on the bench.
Andrew Luck, quarterback: The rookie struggled with turnovers last week, but he's, well, a rookie. Luck hasn't been outstanding on the road this season. However, he's managed to put up some monster numbers at home. This weekend he gets the Bills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Buffalo gives up an average up 234 yards and nearly two passing touchdowns per game, so Luck shouldn't have a probably feasting on this secondary. Expect another solid outing, and put him back in your starting lineup.
Marcel Reece, running back: Reece performed well as he handled the load in the backfield last week, rushing for 103 yards on 19 carries and also adding an additional 90 yards on four receptions. Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson still aren't practicing, leaving Reece as the main man for Oakland again. The Bengals have allowed nine rushing touchdowns in 2012, and rank towards the bottom of the league against running backs in fantasy points. Reece will be in line for solid production once again.
Cecil Shorts, wide receiver: After catching 24 passes for 437 yards and three touchdowns in the past five weeks, Shorts needs to be taken seriously as a fantasy starter. Chad Henne's arrival as the starting quarterback in Jacksonville boosts everyone's value in the passing game, and Shorts' big-play ability will be even more threatening now. Justin Blackmon is also a good option if you're in need of receiver help, but Shorts has been more consistent as of late. He's still available in plenty of leagues out there.
Jermaine Gresham, tight end: Marvin Lewis is liking what he sees from Gresham, Andy Dalton is liking what he sees from Gresham. Everyone in Cincy seems to be on the Gresham bandwagon. The Raiders have given up touchdowns to Dennis Pitta and Jimmy Graham the last two weeks, so Gresham should like his odds in this matchup.
Rams defense/special teams: St. Louis hasn't been the model of defensive excellence lately. Somehow the Rams managed to give up 27 points to the Jets last week. Their luck should change this week, though, considering they're facing a Cardinals team that looked completely incompetent in the passing game last week. Ryan Lindley gets the start for Arizona on Sunday. That should be enough to boost your confidence in the Rams D/ST.
Joe Flacco, quarterback: Flacco is not a good road quarterback. In five away games this season, he's averaged an incredibly low 176.6 passing yards with just three total touchdowns. The Chargers defense isn't stout against opposing quarterbacks, but Flacco's inability to make plays away from M&T Bank Stadium stifles his value in Week 12. Look elsewhere.
Reggie Bush, running back: The timeshare in Miami's backfield is killing Bush's value. He's posted 41 total rushing yards in the last two weeks, and it's not getting any better this Sunday against the Seahawks. Aside from the debacle against Adrian Peterson, Seattle doesn't give many points up to opposing running backs. Bush is an extremely risky option in Week 12.
Mike Williams, wide receiver: Vincent Jackson continues to flourish in Tampa while Williams has taken a step back in his last two games. He caught just three passes in Week 11, and his matchup doesn't look good for Sunday. The Falcons have only allowed six touchdowns to wideouts so far. Williams didn't fare well against Atlanta last year either. He's tough to play here.
Heath Miller, tight end: The Steelers quarterback carousel continues to hinder Miller's value. Charlie Batch takes over this week, which probably won't help Miller any more than Byron Leftwich did. Batch's last three start for the Steelers have resulted in five total catches for Miller. Until Big Ben returns, you'll probably want to find a different option at tight end.
Falcons defense/special teams: If the Cardinals actually had a quarterback, the Falcons could've been torched last week. Josh Freeman and Doug Martin present a much tougher task this weekend, and while Atlanta continues to find ways to win, its D/ST isn't looking like much of a start against this high-scoring offense.